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First Cohort Graduates from PSM Cyber Stars Program at Liverpool FC

New careers in IT open up for former footballers.
Friday 22nd July saw the very first students graduate from the PSM Cyber Stars Programme at an event held at the AXA Training Centre, the training facility for one the world’s most iconic football clubs, Liverpool FC.

For those young players who do not go on to have a career in the professional game, career paths can be difficult. Recognising the issue, Phoenix Sport and Media Group (PSMG) have opened the ‘state of the art’ PSM Digital Academy which is designed to help current and retired players into a career in cyber security. This week saw the first seven students graduate with many of them already lined up with their first roles in the sector.

Founded by a group of Premier League players who are determined to make a positive difference, PSM Digital Academy and the Cyber Star Programme will be providing technical skills training as well as help in transitioning from sport. Located at Silverstone race circuit, the courses will be delivered in a modern training facility on site, or virtually, dependent on the preference of the learner. The courses will be in offensive, defensive and threat intelligence and will help plug a significant skills gap in this specific area of the cyber industry.

This is a new partnership between PSMG, CompTIA, BIT Training and Hack The Box and it’s tasked with delivering the programme under the name Cyber Stars.

The first cohort launched in late April 2022 and was oversubscribed which is an indication of the level of demand for this type of learning. Looking forward, the Academy will be inviting applications from other sports and focus groups including cricket, rugby, and athletics. As part of its commitment to diversity and inclusion, they are also hoping to offer focused cohorts for female players and for Paralympians.

The course has been designed to go beyond traditional training and has been tailored to help sports stars excel. PSM Cyber Stars Programme has also entered into partnerships with cyber employers who are looking to interview successful graduates for roles in this fast-growing sector.

Commenting on the new projects, Carly Barnes CEO of PSMG said: “We’re incredibly proud to have successfully launched this course and even more proud to see the very first students graduate at such a well renowned venue. These new graduates are about to start on brand new career paths in the IT industry and we look forward to seeing how they progress as the months and years move on.”

One former Liverpool FC Academy player that graduated from the course this week is Josh Sumner, who said: “It was devastating to leave Liverpool FC at the age of 19 after being there for seven years because football was all I knew. I’m now 28 years old and I can safely say that the PSM Cyber Stars Programme has set me on a new and exciting career path in IT. It was always something that I was interested in but this have given me the opportunity to take the first real life step in to the sector.”

Commenting on the initiative, Caitlin Hawkins, Academy Education Manager, Liverpool Football Club said: “This is an amazing initiative, and we are fully behind it at LFC. The workshop delivered by PSM, BIT Training, Hack The Box and CompTIA is impressive and we’ve had real interest in this course from our alumni. We’re delighted to see that the graduates from this week include former LFC player Josh Sumner and we look forward to giving our continued support to the course and these former players as they embark on new career paths.”

Background information:

CompTIA

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a leading voice and advocate for the $5 trillion global information technology ecosystem; and the estimated 75 million industry and tech professionals who design, implement, manage, and safeguard the technology that powers the world’s economy. Through education, training, certifications, advocacy, philanthropy, and market research, CompTIA is the hub for unlocking the potential of the tech industry and its workforce. Visit https://www.comptia.org/

“The number of open job roles in the cyber security sector in the UK is increasing, yet the number of skilled people to fill them still lags behind. Globally, we are facing a huge skills gap and a shortage of millions of skilled professionals in the coming years. Our mission at CompTIA is to close the IT skills gap and improve the talent pipeline for IT employers.

The PSMG Cyber Stars programme does just that. The programme is different and engaging and helps us attract a new demographic of talent to become a part of this booming industry. The students are able to bring something new with the transferrable skills they have picked up in their years of professional training in sport. Skills such as Leadership, Team work, Problem Solving and Commitment are all skills that can be used in Tech.

We are demystifying the idea of needing to be a 'rocket scientist' or 'mathematician' to get into to work in Tech and Cyber roles. We are thrilled to support the academy alumni as they reskill, certify and transition into their new careers in cyber security and help us achieve our mission of supporting a skilled workforce into industry.

Luke Barton, Senior Manager, CompTIA

Hack The Box

Hack The Box is an online cybersecurity training and upskilling platform that allows individuals, businesses, universities, and all kinds of organizations all around the world to level up their offensive and defensive security skills through the most gamified and engaging learning environment. Join a massive hacking playground and infosec community of 1.5 million platform members who learn, hack, level up, and exchange ideas and methodologies.

“At Hack The Box we are committed to creating a safer cyber world by making cybersecurity training accessible to everyone. Everyone can join and start learning and practicing cybersecurity, from theory to action. With that in mind, Hack The Box supported the PSM Cyber Stars Programme, providing cyber security training to a selected group of athletes - willing to explore a new line of work - and as such offer a pathway for these individuals to a new career opportunity.”

Harris Pylarinos, Hack The Box, Founder & CEO

BIT Training

Since 2004, BIT Training has provided award-winning commercial IT and Cyber Security training to support organisations and IT professionals across the world. Their dedicated team of in-house expert instructors, online platforms and learning partners provide cost-effective, flexible training solutions. They provide customers with the opportunity to learn ‘whenever’ and ‘wherever’ they need to achieve their learning goals.

“The PSM Cyber Stars Programme is unique and we’re proud to be involved. We’ve broken down the learning pathway so that academic and social backgrounds are unimportant; it’s all about talent and aptitude. We’re very excited to partner with PSMG, CompTIA and Hack The Box to grow the partnership as market demand for our courses grows.”